Summary of Various Hardware Types and Protocols

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  • DevynCJohnson
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    When working with low-level software (like configuring the Linux kernel) or hardware, some people may see different terms for various hardware. Many tasks and decisions can be made easier if the person understood the hardware term. This article provides a list of various terms related to hardware and a brief description. This may make Linux kernel configuration and other tasks easier when unknown hardware terminology is seen.

    NOTE: This list is not complete. More terminology, descriptions, and explanations will be added over time. The list is sorted alphabetically by abbreviation.

    Hardware and Hardware Standards

    • AGP (Accelerated Graphics Port) - Video-card expansion bus standard
      • Communication - Parallel
      • Created - 1996
      • Speed - 2133MB/s
    • CardBus - Peripheral interface designed for laptop computers; 32-bit PCMCIA 5.0 device used to easily add a new hardware component
      • Communication - Parallel
      • Created - 1995
      • Speed - 132MB/s
      • Transmission - Transition Minimized Differential Signaling (TMDS); Serial
    • EHCI (Enhanced Host Controller Interface) - USB2.0 controller
    • EISA (Extended Industry Standard Architecture) - Computer bus and expansion card standard for 32-bit internal buses
      • Communication - Parallel
      • Created - 1988
    • eSATA (Extended Serial ATA) - Computer bus interface for the external connectivity of storage devices
      • Communication - Serial
      • Created - 2004
      • Speed - 6.0Gbit/s
    • ExpressCard - Peripheral interface designed for laptop computers; used to easily add a new hardware component
      • Communication - Serial
      • Created - 2003
      • Speed - 280Mbit/s (USB2 Mode) - 3.2Gbit/s (PCIe2 or USB3 Mode)
    • FSB (Front-Side Bus) - Intel communication bus used between the CPU and the memory controller hub (northbridge)
    • HECI (Host Embedded Controller Interface) - Four-wire bus that provides a way for the operating system to communicate directly with the Manageability Engine (ME)
      • Created - 2006
    • HT (HyperTransport) - Bidirectional high-bandwidth serial/parallel, low-latency point-to-point link between processors; used by some AMD, Nvidia, and MIPS systems
      • Created - 2001
    • ICH (I/O Controller Hub) - Intel southbridge microchips used to manage data communications between a CPU and a motherboard
      • Created - 1999
    • IDE (Integrated Drive Electronics) - Original term for "Parallel ATA (PATA)"
    • IEEE 1394 (FireWire) - Serial bus interface standard; comparable to USB
      • Communication - Serial
      • Created - 1994
      • Speed - 400–3200Mbit/s
    • IOMMU (Input/Output Memory Management Unit) - Memory Management Unit (MMU) that connects a direct memory access-capable (DMA-capable) I/O bus to the main memory
    • IPMI (Intelligent Platform Management Interface) - Interface specifications for an autonomous subsystem that provides management and monitoring capabilities independently of the CPU, firmware (BIOS or UEFI), and operating system
    • ISA (Industry Standard Architecture) - Computer bus and expansion card standard for 16-bit internal buses of IBM PC/AT
      • Communication - Parallel
      • Created - 1981
    • iSCSI (Internet Small Computer System Interface) - IP-based storage networking standard for connecting storage devices; carries SCSI commands over IP
    • iSMT (Intel SMBus Message Transport) - DMA-based support for a multi-master I2C/SMBus and IPMI
    • LPC (Low Pin Count) - Bus used to connect low-bandwidth devices to the CPU; a Platform Controller Hub (PCH) or a southbridge chip will be the LPC controller
    • Northbridge - Supports CPU, Memory/Cache, and other performance-critical capabilities
    • OHCI (Open Host Controller Interface) - USB1.1 Controller
    • PATA (Parallel ATA) - Interface standard for the connection of storage devices
      • Communication - Parallel
      • Created - 1986
      • Speed - 133MB/s
    • Parallel SCSI or SPI - Buffered peer-to-peer interface that uses the SCSI protocol
      • Communication - Parallel
      • Created - 1986
      • Speed - 640MB/s
    • PCI (Peripheral Component Interconnect) - Computer bus and expansion card standard
      • Communication - Serial
      • Created - 1992
      • Speed - 133MB/s (32-bit at 33 MHz)
    • PCIe or PCI Express (Peripheral Component Interconnect Express) - Computer bus and expansion card standard
      • Communication - Serial
      • Created - 2004
      • Speed - 250MB/s - 31.51GB/s
    • PCI-X (Peripheral Component Interconnect eXtended) - Computer bus and expansion card standard; improved PCI
      • Communication - Parallel
      • Created - 1998
      • Speed - 1064MB/s
    • PCMCIA (PC Card) - Peripheral interface designed for laptop computers; used to easily add a new hardware component
      • Communication - Parallel
      • Created - 1990
      • Speed - 132MB/s
    • PCH (Platform Controller Hub) - Acts as a southbridge and supports clocking, Flexible Display Interface (FDI), and Direct Media Interface (DMI)
      • Created - 2008
    • PMIC (Power Management Integrated Circuits) - Integrated circuits for managing power requirements
    • RapidIO - Packet-switched, interconnect technology
      • Communication - Serial
      • Created - 2000
      • Speed - 10.3125GBd (GigaBaud)
    • SAS (Serial Attached SCSI) - Point-to-point serial SCSI protocol for storage devices; backwards compatible with SATA
      • Communication - Serial
      • Created - 2005
      • Speed - 12Gbit/s (SAS-3)
    • SATA (Serial ATA) - Computer bus interface for storage devices
      • Communication - Serial
      • Created - 2003
      • Speed - 16Gbit/s
    • SMBus (System Management Bus) - Single-ended two-wire bus for the purpose of lightweight communication; usually between the power-source for ON/OFF instructions
      • Created -1995
    • Southbridge - One of two core logic chipsets; handles all I/O functions (such as USB, audio, BIOS, ISA bus, interrupt controller, etc.)
    • SCH (System Controller Hub) - Bus used on low-power Atom-based platforms with a combined North and South bridge
    • Thunderbolt - Serial bus interface standard for external peripherals; comparable to USB
      • Communication - Serial
      • Created - 2011
      • Speed - 40Gbit/s (v3)
    • UART (Universal Asynchronous Receiver/Transmitter) - Device that translates data between parallel and serial; usually an integrated circuit (IC)
    • UHCI (Universal Host Controller Interface) - USB1 controller
    • WHCI (Wireless Host Controller Interface) - Wireless USB1.0 controller
    • XHCI (Extensible Host Controller Interface) - USB controller that supports USB1.1-USB3.1

    Video Connection Hardware

    • DisplayPort - Digital display interface (audio and video); packet-based data transmission
      • Audio Sampling Rate - 32to192kHz
      • Created - 2006
    • DVI (Digital Visual Interface) - Digital video display interface; RGB
      • Created - 1999
      • DVI-A - analog
      • DVI-D - digital
      • DVI-I - digital and analog
    • HDMI (High-Definition Multimedia Interface) - Interface for carrying digital audio and video; backwards compatible with DVI-D and DVI-I
      • Bitrate - 18Gbit/s (HDMI2)
      • Created - 2002
    • RCA Connector - Typically carries audio and video signals (other uses exist); 75Ω coaxial-type cable; yellow carries composite video; red carries the right audio channel; white/black carries the left audio channel
      • Created - 1940
    • SCART - 21-pin connector used to connect Audio-Visual (AV) equipment
      • Audio Signal - Bi-directional Stereo
      • Created - 1970
      • Video Signal - Composite, RGB, or S-Video
    • SVGA (Super Video Graphics Array) - Extension to the VGA standard; resolution of 800x600 pixels; three-row 15-pin DE-15 connector
      • Created - 1987
    • VGA (Video Graphics Array) - Three-row 15-pin DE-15 connector; carries analog RGBHV and VESA Display Data Channel (VESA DDC) data
      • Created - 1987

    Hardware Concepts and Features

    • ASPM (Active State Power Management) - Power management protocol used to manage PCI Express-based (PCIe) serial link devices as links become less active
    • AHCI (Advanced Host Controller Interface) - Standard for the operation of Serial ATA (SATA) host bus adapters; provides a memory structure for hardware to exchange data between RAM and storage devices; used for detecting, configuring, and programming SATA adapters
    • ATA Packet Interface (ATAPI) - Protocol used by PATA and SATA devices; ATA can carry SCSI commands and support optical-disk and tape drives
    • Composite Video - Single-channel analog video transmission without audio; usually using 480i or 576i resolution; uses NTSC, PAL or SECAM video signals
    • DMA (Direct Memory Access) - Feature that allows hardware subsystems to access system memory (RAM) independently of the Central Processing Unit (CPU)
    • DMI (Direct Media Interface) - Intel's link-protocol between the northbridge and southbridge
    • EDID (Extended Display Identification Data) - Data structure provided by a digital display to describe its capabilities to a video source; makes computers aware of connected monitors
    • RGB - Red, Green, and Blue; one pixel on the screen is produced by using three close, but separate, sources
    • Separate Video (S-Video or Y/C) - Signaling standard video; usually 480i or 576i; separates black-and-white and coloring signals
    • VESA (Video Electronics Standards Association) - Video peripheral standards
    • x2APIC - 32-bit address used for addressing CPUs

    Further Reading

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